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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 8
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Monday
Bye Week
CIN, TB
KC, NE
WAS, PIT
*updated

Prediction: STL 14, DET 20

Late Update: Calvin Johnson remains a game time decision and was limited in practice again on Friday. Even if he plays he will not be healthy so I am not adding him back into the projections. Check his game status before kick off to see if he is active or not but he’ll be a risk even if active. Matt Stafford was limited in every practice this week but is expected to play. I have added him into the projections.

Early Update: Matt Stafford has been limited but participated in all practices so far. He has not been officially ruled out or named starter. Friday’s practice will be the key to his status. It looks favorable that he may play. Calvin Johnson was held out on Wednesday but had some limited work on Thursday. Like Stafford, Friday’s practice will be key to his status. Expect an update tomorrow.

The beauty of this game is that someone has to win. Unless there is a tie. At least one team will not lose this week. The Rams drew close in Jacksonville but were just pummeled by the Colts. Both shutouts of the Rams were in road games. The Lions come off their bye week having last been shut out by the Packers. This is probably not going to be an offensive showcase. The Lions are coming off their bye week.

St. Louis Rams (0-7)
Homefield: Edward Jones Dome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @SEA 0-28 +7.5 37
2 @WAS 7-9 +10 37
3 GB 17-36 +6.5 41
4 @SF 0-35 +10 37.5
5 MIN 10-38 +10 41
6 @JAC 20-23 +9.5 43
7 IND 6-42 +14 45
8 @DET - +3.5 43
9 BYE - - -
10 NO - - -
11 ARI - - -
12 SEA - - -
13 @CHI - - -
14 @TEN - - -
15 HOU - - -
16 @ARI - - -
17 SF - - -
STL at DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Marc Bulger     220,2
RB Steven Jackson 90 20  
TE Randy McMichael   30,1  
WR Donnie Avery   80,1  
WR Keenan Burton   40  
WR Danny Amendola   30  
PK Josh Brown   2 XP  
Pregame Notes: This may be the best shot the Rams have at a win for the rest of the season. They have not nor will be favored in any game so it will be an upset when it happens - or if it happen s (just as the Lions). The small amount of confidence losing to the Jaguars by only three points was pretty much erased with the 6-42 loss to the Colts but at least the Rams are slightly healthier in the skill positions than the Lions.

Quarterback: Marc Bulger injured his non-throwing hand last week but x-rays showed no damage. Bulger has been back at full strength for two weeks now but still has never thrown for more than one touchdown in a game. His 213 yards in Jacksonville was much higher than his normal 150 yards or so.

The good news this week is that Bulger faces a secondary that has never allowed less than two passing touchdowns. Over half their opponents have passed for 270+ yards. Even Jason Campbell had 340 yards and two scores so if there was ever a week to use Bulger, this is it. This may be the only time at all. The Lions actually have a decent rushing defense so Bulger is going to have to thrown.

Running Backs: Steven Jackson only has to run for 81 yards and not score a touchdown to eclipse the record of Tiki Barber who ran for 716 yards without ever scoring a touchdown. So maybe it isn't one of those "trophy" awards but the fact that Jackson is averaging around 90 rushing yards per week is amazing on this team. He just gained 134 yards on 23 carries against the Colts but then again - why run 23 times in a game where the team loses by 36 points? Jackson only had 10 rushes for 33 yards at halftime when they already trailed 21-3.

The Lions rush defense has actually been fairly good with only four runners rushing in a touchdown and no runner topping 100 yards in Detroit including Adrian Peterson. But the Rams will run Jackson beyond all reason anyway and the Lions may be without Calvin Johnson and Matt Stafford so this actually may be a run heavy game. Bottom line is Jackson is safe to start and the only question is if he scores or gets used as a receiver much.

Wide Receivers: If any wideout is going to score for the Rams, it will be Donnie Avery who only has two touchdowns but none of the other active wideouts have any. Avery plays much better at home than on the road though but the Lions put up a weaker secondary than most any team. This should be a season high game for Avery with a score.

Danny Amendola and Keenan Burton still have never had more than around 45 yards in a game this year so even facing the Lions doesn't mean they will have any fantasy value worth relying on. You'd need to be in dire straits from a bye week problem before Burton or Amendola could look attractive.

Tight Ends: Daniel Fells has the only scores as a tight end for the Rams but Randy McMichael is more heavily used and usually has two or three catches for up to 45 yards per game. The Lions have already allowed six scores to tight ends so this should be about as good at it gets for McMichael this season - unless Fells steps in again.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points STL 28 29 25 21 31 27
Preventing Fantasy Points    DET 31 28 30 30 28 26


Detroit Lions (1-5)
Homefield: Ford Field
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @NO 24-45 +13.5 49
2 MIN 13-27 +10 47
3 WAS 19-14 +6.5 38
4 @CHI 24-48 +10.5 38.5
5 PIT 20-28 +10.5 44
6 @GB 0-26 +13.5 47.5
7 BYE - - -
8 STL - -3.5 43
9 @SEA - - -
10 @MIN - - -
11 CLE - - -
12 GB - - -
13 @CIN - - -
14 @BAL - - -
15 ARI - - -
16 @SF - - -
17 CHI - - -
DET vs STL Rush Catch Pass
QB Matthew Stafford     200
QB Daunte Culpepper 190
RB Kevin Smith 80,1 30  
TE Brandon Pettigrew   20  
WR Derrick Williams   20  
WR Bryant Johnson   30  
WR Dennis Northcutt   50  
PK Jason Hanson 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Lions only win came at home where they have been much more competitive but injuries to Calvin Johnson and Matt Stafford may be more than the Lions can stand since they were last shutout by the Packers. There's still a home game against the Browns left and the chance for an upset any week so the Lions chances at winning are not limited to this game. But they may not get any better than they will here. Getting Stafford and Johnson back would be a major help.

I like the chance for a defensive score in this matchup.

Quarterback: Matthew Stafford has not practiced yet and there is no established timetable for when he may return from his knee injury. Daunte Culpepper suffered a hamstring strain but was back to practice last week. But Culpepper has been ineffective and may not be the automatic choice to start if Stafford does not play. Drew Stanton went 5 for 11 for 57 yards in relief of Culpepper in the most recent game. I am projecting for Culpepper to start but will adjust if anything else develops.

The Rams have not won a game and their defense has been equally bad against the run or the pass. Most teams pass for multiple scores on them but the Lions with Culpepper and no Johnson is hardly the premier passing attack of the NFL. Expect moderate to good yardage but a score is no given here.

Running Backs: Kevin Smith has been marginally productive in every game but oddly his three rushing scores came in road games. No question though that his best yardage efforts have all been in Detroit and his role as a receiver usually accounts for around four catches per game but he was blanked in Green Bay without Stafford around.

The Rams have already given up 11 touchdowns to running backs and on the road the defense generally gives up more than back at home. About half the opposing runners have ended up around 100 rushing yards or more and Smith will get plenty of work here. Look for one score and solid to good yardage from Smith.

Wide Receivers: Certainly the Lions have not ruled Calvin Johnson out this week but he had a sprained knee in the Pittsburgh game in week six and hasn't been seen practicing yet. He was noted to be walking with a limp still last week. Until he is cleared, I will assume that he will not play and update as needed.

Dennis Northcutt replaced Johnson against the Packers but only had five catches for 40 yards which was less than he had done from the slot against the Steelers. Bryant Johnson has spent the last three games right around 30 yards each week regardless of the need or opportunity. His only score was in the win over the Redskins.

The Rams secondary could be beaten by Calvin Johnson but none of these other wide receivers seem likely to have a decent game. Northcutt is the better risk but none of the wideouts have much appeal this week without Calvin Johnson around.

Tight Ends: While the tight ends have produced up to 60 yards in a game this year, since Stafford has been out there has been almost no use of them by Culpepper or Stanton. Marginal fantasy value at best and more likely minimal fantasy points.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DET 23 17 22 23 17 14
Preventing Fantasy Points    STL 27 27 23 26 23 31

The Huddle
WEEK 8
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Monday
Bye Week
CIN, TB
KC, NE
WAS, PIT
Other Features
Fantasy Statistics
Early Injury Report
Free Agent Forecast
Commentary From the Edge
Game Recaps
Tunnel Vision
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